Once we'd finally managed to secure the cooler to our various test rigs in turn, performance turned out to be excellent. In fact, the Dark Rock Pro 2 was noticeably better than its predecessor in two of our test systems, although this is to be expected given it sports increased airflow. For example, in our Intel LGA2011 test system, dealing with a 4.3GHz Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, the Dark Rock Pro 2 managed a load delta T of 57°C. This was 5°C lower than the Dark Rock Pro, and enough to better the Arctic Freezer i30
and Corsair H80
on low speed, while matching the Intel Thermal Solution RTS2011LC
In our AMD Socket AM3 test system, the Dark Rock Pro 2 recorded a load delta T 2°C lower than its predecessor and bettered many all-in-one liquid coolers, even on their medium fan speed settings where they were considerably louder. Our LGA1155 test system, which sports an overclocked Core i7-2600K, isn't quite as taxing, but the Dark Rock Pro 2 still managed a result just 3°C warmer than the best result on test, although this was only 1°C cooler than the original Dark Rock and only enough to match the Arctic Freezer i30, which costs half the price.
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In noise terms, at idle, the cooler is indistinguishable above the din of other components in the case. It spins up to a hefty thrum when the CPU is under load, but it was still far quieter than our graphics card - in fact we had to momentarily stop our case and graphics card fans to actually gauge the Dark Rock Pro 2's fan noise at all.
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At over £60, Be Quiet's Dark Rock Pro 2 is undoubtedly a pricey item. In terms of value, it has some stiff competition too. The Arctic Freezer i30 costs under £30 - less than half the asking price of the Dark Rock Pro 2, outperforms it in some tests and isn't unpleasant to live with at full speed either. Of course, it's a logical conclusion that you're paying extra for the reduced noise and this is a perfectly valid argument - the Dark Rock 2 is a very quiet piece of kit.
Compared to the likes of the H80 and H100, its a little more complicated. The H100 is around £20 more, while the H80 is just £10 dearer. However they're far easier to fit, particularly on LGA2011 (assuming your case has nearby 120mm or dual 120mm fan mounts), perform roughly the same at their quietest fan speed settings, and if you need to deal with some extra heat during a particularly hot day or a benchmarking session, they have the extra headroom too. They also don't restrict your choice of memory and the H100 in particular is just as quiet as the Dark Rock Pro 2 albeit only on its lowest fan speed setting.
Rather than being a resounding yes for the Dark Rock Pro 2, as might have been the case a couple of years ago, there are now far more options in the heatsink market. If £60+ is too much, there are some far cheaper and still excellent options, namely the Arctic Freezer i30. All-in-one liquid coolers are simpler to install, offer better cooling and are also very quiet, but cost more. Thankfully for Be Quiet!, the Dark Rock Pro 2 is still king of its own little hill. But that hill seems to be getting smaller.
Intel LGA1155 Score
Intel LGA2011 Score
AMD Socket AM3+ Score